Of Human Stupidity

Jun 2nd, 2013

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Of Human Stupidity

For a number of years, I have felt that tech companies must be seriously lacking in acumen to take the policies they do with regard to their customers.   Yesterday I noticed however that it is not restricted to tech companies, and it makes an interesting study in human stupidity to see this in operation.

So for example, a search for property management companies in the UK came up with this

http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews117367.html

I have no personal knowledge of the company involved, or whether the reviews in question are in fact accurate,  but I find it inconceivable that any commercial entity would allow their customer service (or their marketing department) to be so egregiously bad as to have that kind of review show up in search engines.  I mean surely they must realize that in the modern world, potential customers are going to look for reviews – and that it is not going to be a positive thing if you have a consistent 1 star rating.

But then I got to comparing it to the behaviour of tech companies – and I am afraid that three immediately jump to mind.  I used to administer Lotus (heard of them?) technologies.  At one point they had a massive chunk of the Office Suite, email, collaborative website and instant messaging market.  Then they were bought by IBM and everything went downhill from there.  There is no doubt in my mind that Domino was a superior product to early versions of Exchange.  Equally QuickPlace was there before SharePoint was really more than a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye.  I see that support was recently finally dropped for Lotus SmartSuite – but in its day it was way ahead of MS Office.

The same can be said of Novell Netware.  I loved that product back when, and I would defend NDS as a better directory service to AD until about ten years ago.  Today who under the age of 30 has even heard of Novell?  And AD runs most of the world’s internal networks.

One final example….  Sadly I think Blackberry is going the same way.   Considering that they have been relegated to fourth place in the mobile market, I think it unlikely that they will still be in the race (as an independent company) in a year’s time.  And yet not so long ago they had the vast majority of the smartphone market.

And the common factor in all of this….   Intellectual arrogance and the complete inability or unwillingness to listen to their customer base, or in any way to acknowledge that their product was not automatically superior just because it was the current market leader.

So two things I would take from this…..  Firstly if I were a property management company I would seriously do something about my customer service before I allowed a simple Internet search to make me look that bad.  Secondly, I would bet a lot of money against the tech press who are writing Microsoft off as a major force compared to Apple and Google.  Consistently over the last 20 years they appear to have been the only company who genuinely care about customer service, and also one of the few who try to adapt to changing times.    They have never made any claims about ‘doing no evil’ – but it consistently appears that caring for your customers on a day to day basis, and being seen to do so, makes good commercial sense.

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